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By Mark Loper
Three days and two nights at a resort property in Hawaii, New York City, or Las Vegas!
And for only $69!
What’s the catch?
Well, you just have to attend a 90-minute presentation on the mating habits of tree frogs, and this ridiculously cheap vacation package is yours!
And if you believe that, then you’re still expecting a windfall from your “investment” with the Nigerian prince.
OK, OK, you’ve all probably figured out I’m describing the exciting but daunting timeshare presentation.
But, to be unfair, let me delve deeper into this Squid Game-like experience.
Because I’ve been there . . . and I survived.
You arrive at your presentation venue and, if not at the actual “vacay property,” then a neutral off-site location like Guantanamo.
Here, you’re met by a “greeter,” an automaton who smiles brilliantly and asks innocuous questions—such as “How was your drive over?” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” “How do you feel about mail-in ballots?”—lulling you into a passive, take-my-kidney frame of mind.
Next, a “tour guide” takes over, instantly becoming your best friend (tour guides attend the same training program as car dealers), and shows you around the property.
If the property is on the ocean, you’ll visit the luxurious room fronting the crashing waves, the ivory sand and the splashing dolphins.
But you can’t purchase this room, because it’s the closing room, the room where you meet the “Closer” (aka the Harbinger of Bankruptcy, the Killer of Dreams, and the Mean Person Who Made My Parents Cry).
The Closer will first lead you out on the balcony and shake his head as if he almost can’t believe the pounding surf, he’ll nod at the graceful, swaying palms, and he’ll ignore you when you say the dolphins look odd and seem to be jumping in the same spot every five seconds.
Then, dispensing with niceties, you’ll be asked innocent questions such as where do you like to vacation, how much do you usually spend on your vacations, and what’s the limit on your credit card?
The Closer will then whip out a sheet of paper (from his sleeve which should make you instantly suspicious), start drawing boxes, and fill them in with numbers.
This matrix is, ostensibly, showing you the inexpensive cost of owning your own unit compared to the exorbitant cost of renting a hotel room for two weeks every year for the next thousand years.
A thousand years is commonly used in justifying your expenditure (and missed in the fine print) since you can pass your ownership to your heirs.
But, with a little research, you’ll discover Charlemagne’s ancestors still can’t unload his timeshare in a castle.
And the Closer might fail to mention how your annual “maintenance” fees will rise each year and soon dwarf the GDP of Guyana.
And he might fail to mention how, if you’d like to swap timeshares with another sucker . . . uh, owner, your only choice will be a trailer in Tornado Alley.
And you can bet he won’t tell you anything about those damn dolphins.
Mark Loper has been a San Juan Capistrano resident for more than 30 years and has written for several kinds of media, including The Capistrano Dispatch. His writing has been scorned and rejected countless times, but, while hanging onto a wisp of self-esteem, he’s managed to have the occasional scribbling published in book form, in columns, online, on TV and as advertising. He has yet to tweet.